There are many businesses and individuals who work with an attorney or law office on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. For those who do, many keep a layer “on retainer.” When integrating legal billing software within a law office, how to accurately manage a retainer fee may be a point of concern.
Retainers and Legal Billing Software
A retainer is a pre-determined fee between a business or individual and their attorney or law office. This is usually the per-hour rate for the attorney’s time. If a legal issue is ongoing or a business would like to have access to an attorney as needed, keeping an attorney on retainer makes sense. These fees are often non-refundable and if the client goes beyond what their retainer is, they will be billed for the additional cost.
A retainer fee is also used to pay for legal services if the client would like to have the attorney “on call” to handle any legal issues that develop on their behalf or if legal counsel is required on a regular basis. A retainer is usually paid on a monthly schedule, based on the agreement between the attorney or law office and the client.
Questions may develop when considering different legal billing software solutions within a law office as to how to handle retainer management, or if it is even possible to manage a retainer within the system. Prior to implementing a legal billing software solution, it is always a good idea to have the retainer management process demonstrated. This should include how to enter the retainer into the legal billing software system, as well as how to “work off” a retainer.
When legal billing software is utilized instead of a standard accounting program, the unique situations a law office will face regarding billing have already been considered. The legal billing software system will understand how to manage retainers and apply them to a client’s invoice. This way when the invoice is sent to the client, they will have a complete understanding of the status of their legal issues, what they are being billed and if it is time to add more funds to their retainer.